Featured principle: Q&A with Heather Mann, principle of Dubai British School Jumeirah Park
Mother, Baby & Child speaks to Heather Mann, the principle of Dubai British School Jumierah Park about what she’s most proud of, and whether the UAE should abolish homework
What are your principles and values when it comes to running the school?
This is an easy question to answer as it’s at the heart of all decisions and actions. For me it’s simple, ‘the students come first’. This may sound obvious, but in the day-to-day running of a busy school what’s in the best interest for children’s development and progress can get sidelined. Sometimes, this means parents and staff having to take a different look at things and being flexible with their own plans and needs.
What inspires you when it comes to managing and improving the school environment and encouraging students?
Everyday, as I walk the school and spend time in classes, I’m inspired by the joy of learning that you can see on young children’s faces and the eagerness to find out more by asking even deeper questions from the older students. There’s no better motivation to continually improve than being around creative and enquiring children and young adults.
What aspect of your school are you most proud of?
At DBSJP, our students are making amazing progress in all aspects of their learning, academic and social development due to the dedicated team of professionals who go above and beyond every single day. We have children who hated their previous school, but now skip into the building eager to learn.
What are your thoughts on technology-based learning vs. more time outdoors?
Where would we be without technology? We have to face the fact that we can’t live without it and for certain, there will be more of it around in the future not less. Children of today will be using technology in their working lives which hasn’t even been invented yet. Therefore, children need to learn to use technology appropriately and for the right purpose. This doesn’t mean spending hours in front of a digital screen or being tethered to the internet 24 hours a day. We all know the importance and benefits of getting outdoors, it’s a key ingredient to well-being and happiness. It’s a balance. I recommend that parents set a limit on screen time, and for the whole family to have a ‘no phones after bedtime’ rule.
Do you think we will eventually adopt a no-homework policy in UAE schools?
Homework has always been a controversial issue. Some parents and teachers see huge benefits, while others are against it. Current research and trends against homework may well be challenged in the future. I don’t believe it’s wise to have a UAE-wide policy on homework; it should be school-specific, tailored to the wishes of the school community.
How do you see the recent school fee hikes and how has your school adopted them?
At DBSJP, we’ve had no increase in school fees. In fact, there’s currently a discount applied to all families and a sibling discount applied to families with three children.
If students were to describe your school, what would they say is their favourite aspect?
We regularly ask students their views. A high number talk passionately about their teachers and the way they support them and make learning fun. Many children talk about all of the additional opportunities they have been given, particularly the leadership roles and responsibilities they have been trusted with.
For more information about Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, head over to: dubaibritishschooljp.ae.